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No Argument From Me

A reader writes:

Dissenting Catholics and former Catholics fill Hollywood, the news media, political office, and judicial seats and they have fallen into grave sin. If your son had fallen on the concrete and knocked himself unconscious, you would run to him, try to rouse him, take him to the hospital, and treat his injuries. Too many Catholics leave our brothers and sisters in Christ unconscious and dead in their sin. We get distracted by arguments about homosexuality and abortion and fail to address the real problem: these people don’t know Christ.

We need to break through the insulation that surrounds them and through the guards they put up themselves. We need to go on the offensive against the spiritual attack against our culture and our Church. We need to bring Christ directly to people where they are at instead of waiting for them to come to us. There are a lot of people in this country that need to encounter Christ and I think the Holy Spirit has inspired me with an idea on how to evangelize more effectively.

My idea is this: Introduce Christ to everyone we can and let him work on their hearts. We need to inform our congressmen, the media, and Hollywood about the Catholic faith by mailing them cds, tracts, and books. We need to email them audio, youtube videos, and explanations about Catholic teaching. We should write a letter and put a cd or tract or SOMETHING in every gift we get for poor children at Christmas time, every food donation or care package, every bag that leaves a St Vincent De Paul’s store, and give one with every gift card we give to our kids’ teachers, mail carriers, and whoever else. Every willing Catholic doctor, dentist, or businessman should have Catholic material in their waiting rooms or by their registers. We need to bring Catholic magazines to hospital waiting rooms, and we should have kiosks in grocery stores and pharmacies and crisis pregnancy centers. We need to bring this information to the prisons and homeless shelters. We need to like the facebook pages of those that disagree with us and post Youtube videos about what the Church really teaches. If we give this information to them they might never read or listen to it, but if we never give it to them then they will never hear it or read it.

The Saints wrote letters, the apostles wrote letters, in fact much of what we know about our faith is because these people wrote down what it is all about. St Francis de Sales evangelized the Calvinists (who hated him so much they set their dogs on him) by writing tracts and slipping them under their doors at night. He won 60,000 converts in his life. If he did this writing tracts by hand, then what could we do with our cds, our home printers, and our books already made for us? If one man can do this, what can one hundred of us do by the grace of God, through prayer and perseverance?

There are already Jehovah’s Witness publications on the tables of the waiting rooms of my local hospital and Protestant kiosks in my local CVS and Catholic owned grocery store. The secularists are having their say in the media and universities. It is time for us to tell America the truth about Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church. I can’t do this alone. I’m not a Saint. I am lazy, I lack stamina, I am easily discouraged, I don’t communicate very well, and I am not a leader who can inspire others to action. Catholics like me want to change the culture instead of just complaining about it. Please help inspire other Catholics to evangelize our nation, from the White House to the prisons. I am rereading this and second guessing myself, maybe this doesn’t sound very exciting or brilliant. I have prayed about this and think that Catholics need to get more aggressive about evangelization in our country. I could be off the mark, but I feel we are being led to action and while we must pray always, we cannot pray and do nothing as our culture disintegrates.

The Holy Spirit is the one who converts people. As we study to make ourselves disciples of Jesus Christ, he is the one who takes the initiative to work through us to convert others. Focus on discipleship and God will make you an apostle in due course.

  • James H, London

    Now, that is genuine prophecy!

  • Mike

    That approach might work where you live but here, where I live, it would be a scandal. Canada is a lovely good country that is very self-concious about its Christian underpinnings.

    • Janis

      Hey Mike,
      I totally get what you are saying, because I grew up in Canada but now live in the US. That being said, I totally get what Mark is saying and I think that the missing piece would be something I have discovered among the “non-denoms” and that is they approach people and pray with them for healing and God is doing amazing things. Those “amazing things” get people’s attention in a way that they are ready to hear the “Good News”. I am from a very traditional denomination but one of my best friends taught me this and it has transformed my entire approach to sharing the Good News, which truly is GOOD News, for everyone. Healing is a language everyone understands, and is very scriptural..something all denoms can appreciate!

  • Dan C

    Here is my hippie dippie approach to something I think has been the project for the past 20 years: this is fine if this is what God calls you to, but it is not for me. The absence of the Wall Street financiers is glaring in this list which sets off my “culture warrior” alarms and thus leads me to instinctive repulsion at the project. Even beyond my bias do not think it really is the way to do this work.

    The imagination of all these folks singled out by this reader as sinners is captured by selflessness to the poor. We see it all the time. Despite a few misanthropes, Mother Theresa is an icon, even among the rest of society. Greg Boyle, to a lesser degree, captures this attention, too. Francis of Assissi is another timeless icon to our age.

    Attend to the poor. Let our hands do the talking and our mouths stop telling people of our judgements of their errors.

    • Noah D

      “The absence of the Wall Street financiers is glaring in this list which sets off my “culture warrior” alarms and thus leads me to instinctive repulsion at the project. ”

      Because it doesn’t include your favorite sinners, you’re ‘instinctively repulsed’ by the idea?

      • Dan C

        Yes. I am well-trained by the culture war. I can wage a battle over who and how to proclaim the Gospel, finding the code in another’s critiques and technique that is inspired by a religio-political worldview.

        Much like many on the opposite side of the culture was would be instinctively repulsed by use of language and techniques of Cardinal Bernadin.

        This would be why I argue against continuing the culture war. It has had very very negative consequences for our faith.

        Or we can continue and try to fight over who is the greater sinners needing reformation first. and then how to show them. Or tell them.

    • http://coalitionforclarity.blogspot.com/ Robert King

      First, I agree that Wall Street needs the gospel at least as desperately as Hollywood or D.C. or any other part of society.

      Second, actions certainly do speak louder than words. However, words speak more clearly. This is because we are not only physical beings, but intellectual ones as well. Our minds must be formed as well as our bodily habits.

      Pope Francis has people’s attention because he rides the bus and pays his own hotel bill and washes prisoners’ feet. Good! But people tend to interpret his actions through their own lenses and prejudices (as is seen from all the commentary and critique). We need to listen to his words (and the words of Bl. Teresa of Kolkata and St. Francis of Assisi – and ultimately of Jesus himself) to understand his actions and develop our actions into habits and virtues.

      Moreover, we need to take similar actions, and speak similar words, in our own lives – so that all around us will come to know Jesus Christ, whose Holy Spirit abides in us.

      If we do not speak, then we are denying those we meet the chance – not only to see Christ, but to meet him, and become friends with him, and enter into communion with him. If we do not speak, we slam the door just when others are asking to come inside. If we do not speak, we are hiding our light under a bushel basket at the very moment illumination is most needed.

      • http://www.pilgrimage.subcreators.com Lori Pieper

        Robert: bravo! As a culture, we are great on the images, but bad on the words: this is what our 24/7 media visual culture has lead us to. We really need both. Literacy and logic are disappearing from our culture, faster all the time.

        In spite of the persistent meme, St. Francis very frequently used words to spread the Gospel — and we had best do the same.

        • Dan C

          They are not listening. They need evidence. Francis has begun to produce the evidence.

      • Dan C

        I think the masses are in such dreadful need of education that all there is, even after erudite Benedict and the voluminous body of communications from JP2, a need for remedial education.

        So we need demonstration time.

        It was not yapping that converted the world. It was living and doing. Or that seemed to be the accounts.

    • Elaine

      No I want to evangelize Wall Street. I need names and addresses. I think everyone should know about Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church. Maybe I didn’t make it clear, but I don’t think we should be telling people about our judgement of their errors, I think we should be telling them about Christ and inviting them to a deeper relationship with him. I think it is unfair to let people live inside a bubble of their own wealth and self-gratification without ever hearing about the joy they can experience in a life of self-donation in imitation of Christ. I commend and admire your service to the poor, but truth is I never had any interest in the poor until I came to know Christ. I didn’t know he is God and that he is truly present in the Blessed Sacrament in the Catholic Church until I was 25 years old, even though I read the Bible and attended Mass and RCIA for a year and half because no one EVER bothered to TELL me. This stuff is dynamite! It is absolutely the biggest thing to happen in the history of everything, yet for my entire life, no Catholic ever even told me.

  • Michael

    Lighthouse catholic media has fantastic Catholic books and CDs but unfortunately their kiosks are rarely found in Catholic Churches or bookstores much less grocery stores and pharmacies. This is a fantastic idea and if you look on lighthouse’s website they have information on how to get a kiosk in your church or business.

    • Elaine

      We have them in our churches in my city already, but since the grocery stores have St Joseph Altars I think they might be open to it. One of the pharmacies is pro-life and run by a deacon and some of the others are owned by Catholics.

  • Joe V

    Thank you to the reader. To Dan C I would say, Mother Teresa emphatically spoke the Word of God whenever and wherever she brought help to the poor. Clearly there is a “both and” not “either or” when we discuss works of mercy and explicitly preaching the Gospel.

  • Kate

    I can’t help but feel that handwritten letters must be more effective than any number of printed tracts, no matter how glossy. st. francis de sales, by the way, taught quite constantly that no two of us have the same gifts or calling.

    • SouthCoast

      So, for that matter, did a Christian named Paul.

  • http://rayontremblant.wordpress.com Robert

    Whoa, whoa, whoa, WHOA. Now, that is innovation. NOTHING like this has EVER been tried before.

  • Michelle

    The saints and apostles did indeed write letters, but they wrote them to people with whom they had already established a relationship, not random strangers. If you get a letter from someone you have never met or even heard of in your life, how much attention do you pay to it? Letters to our elected representatives may be given attention, because there is at least an implied relationship due to their office. Our influence as Catholic Christians must begin with relationships.

    • Kenneth

      If you really want to establish credibility with strangers, send them an obsequious email in somewhat tortured English from a Nigerian IP address! And promise them a nice cut of a money laundering scheme, if only they’ll front some cash to get it all sorted out….

    • Newp Ort

      For me, an anonymously given tract or pamphlet is mostly likely tossed without reading and forgotten. A handwritten letter from a perfect stranger might be read, but then is tossed after getting a severe case of the heeby jeebies. Who does this weirdo from that kooky religion think they are? Though, full disclosure I can be bugged out by people in general and a bit of a self centered asshole.

      I’m really not a big fan of, as a group, the Mormons or J-hos for not minding their own business. (Doesn’t help that their theology is nuttier than a loon.)

      The personal approach might work with some but I imagine you might put off just as many.

  • Michael

    Well, you do have opportunities to literally go have a face-to-face with a lot of public figures where you live.

    Gather up the medical papers demonstrating the effectiveness of NFP and go see your medical professionals – present a case that NFP would be funded by whatever meagre cash you guys in the US have available ;)

    Or gather the authentic social teaching of the Church and make some simple, practical proposals to your local representatives on real issues in your local area; keep it positive and personal and make it clear that you want to establish friendships and partnerships, not just “lobby”.

    Actually the examples are endless.

  • Theodore Seeber

    Contact the Grand Knight and Financial Secretary of your local Knights of Columbus Council. The Knights have a department called Catholic Information Services that have excellent tracts for this purpose.

  • John

    I just read this…and, is this a problem that folks are not interested in Christ, or in the Catholic Church?

  • Michelle

    Dissenting Catholics and former Catholics fill Hollywood, the news media, political office, and judicial seats and they have fallen into grave sin. If your son had fallen on the concrete and knocked himself unconscious, you would run to him, try to rouse him, take him to the hospital, and treat his injuries. Too many Catholics leave our brothers and sisters in Christ unconscious and dead in their sin.

    I’m struck by the fact that no one is disagreeing with this rather huge presumption by Mark’s reader. My first question to Mr. Anonymous Reader would be to ask when the Holy Spirit gave him the gift of reading souls, and not just one soul but presumably thousands or millions of them. It’s basic Moral Theology 101 that mortal sin requires three elements: grave matter, full knowledge, and deliberate consent of the will. If any of those elements are missing, there is not a mortal sin. As Catholics, the most we can say is that a particular action satisfies the requirement of grave matter; outside of a special grace of God to read souls, we have no ability to declare that other people are in mortal sin. Only the individual person, perhaps in consultation with his confessor or spiritual director, can assess his own knowledge and consent.

    • Theodore Seeber

      But what we must not do is leave the knowledge part out entirely. We have a duty, out of love, when we come in contact with such a person, to share with them the truth- else we are guilty of a sin ourselves.

      If you saw a man falling into a river, would you not save him?

      • Newp Ort

        At least tell him the muddy bank he’s standing on is not solid and he could easily slide in.

      • Michelle

        If you saw a man falling into a river, would you not save him?

        Sure, if I could. But first I’d want to know that it was a river (instead of a puddle), that the person wanted saving (instead of having chosen to dive into a river he was fully capable of swimming), and that I was the person to save him (which, given my inability to swim, is probably not the case). My point here is that you have to know what you’re getting into and with whom. Randomly yanking people out of situations they’re fine with—and which actually might not be a sinful situation for them—is no kindness, much less charity.

        • Loretta

          The power of prayer is available to us all, to enable us to discern the rivers, soften the hearts of those who desire saving, and place the right witness in the right place at the right time. But more often than not, opportunity occurs as it did in a movie I can’t remember the name of: “I must deal with you, because God put you in my way.” (Sean Connery, wasn’t it?) Evangelization of the moment requires spiritual readiness and no excuses. Don’t get caught like a foolish virgin with an empty lamp.

        • Theodore Seeber

          So basically, you agree with Cain that you are not your brother’s keeper?

          I’m too much of a believer in objective morality to think that such situations are not sinful for them merely because they’re ignorant of the effects of their sin.

    • Elaine

      No presumptions on my part, I am just not great at putting my thoughts into words. My point was that we should be telling everyone about our awesome faith instead of complaining about their sins and whether they should be receiving communion and stuff like that. The Saints, Apostles, Martyrs, and Jesus spoke the truth to everyone, even to people that hated them and people that were going to kill them. Most people I know struggle to speak about Christ even to people who love them because it might be uncomfortable. We have and a faith that is show and tell. You can lead by example without speaking, but in a society with an underlying relativism you are just as likely to lead them to any religion or ideology they want to practice as you are to the Church. Right now, tracts, CDs, children’s books, any info at all flies off the rack at my parish. My other mother and I can’t keep up with the demand. The diocese has a store in the mall during the Christmas season where people can get free Catholic information, free bibles, and go to Confession. People are hungry for the truth. We need to tell them, it’s like we just decided it will be easier for them to get to Heaven through ignorance or something.

    • Elaine

      Oh I get what you are saying Michelle. I didn’t intend to mean they are going to hell or anything. I mean that they are doing things which the Catholic Church identifies as mortal sin and so their souls could be in jeopardy, but instead of trying to help them we complain about how they should be denied Communion or complain about what they are doing wrong. We should encourage them to go deeper into their faith and help re-catechize them.

  • Elaine

    Mark I don’t understand why Catholics are so uncomfortable about sharing their faith. I don’t see anything controversial about sending a politician, CEO, or celebrity a letter that says “Hi, I know that you are (Catholic) and I admire your support of (women and the poor, or social values, or whatever) so I thought you might like this (CD or book or something) called (Rediscover Catholicism, Feminine Genius, Becoming the Best Version of Yourself, etc). They might ignore it or reject it or think we are some strange religious person, but we can’t continue to complain about how people in our country act if they are doing so out of ignorance and nobody has the courage to give them a reason (Christ) why they shouldn’t just live however they want. The Holy Spirit wants to work through us, but he won’t work through your hands unless you do something with them in the first place and he won’t work through our mouths unless we open them up and speak.

  • Stephen J.

    The paradox of our age is that in order to really help people know Christ we have to be as Christlike as possible, which includes both living and preaching a gospel of Love, but the very act of trying to tell people about a better way to live life is seen as “essentially” un-Loving. How can you bring healing to people when the very act of warning them that they are ill, or even asking them if they are certain they are not, is seen (because we have all been conditioned to so see it) as a judgement and condemnation?

    The irony of our post-Christian paganism is that our pagan impulses have taken the scientific learning that Christian principles made possible and used it to try to render Christian charity and martyrdom — the things that really evangelized the pagans during Rome’s dying days — unnecessary, or at least irrelevant and discomfiting, while simultaneously depicting Christianity as the enemy of that learning rather than its inspiration. It may be that it will take true disaster and horror for the World to once again seek the Church out, which prospect I cannot say I contemplate with any delight.

  • Gloria

    I just came back to the Catholic Church quite recently after having been away for many, many years. What got me back. First, seeing an ad on TV that said “Catholics Come Home.” I had never seen such a thing before and had not realized it was actually possible to return. Second, I went to the Catholics Come Home website, but still didn’t quite see how exactly to return. I couldn’t quite imagine contacting a priest on my own, given the many, many years I had missed mass and confession. Third, I was chatting with an acquaintance who happened to be Catholic and we happened to discuss the point that there was never anybody to answer any questions we might have had about the church when we were younger. You just went to mass and that was it. There was no talking about God or the Bible or anything like that. Fourth, a week later she went me an email with a poster from our local parish church that announced a seven-week series on Discovering Christ. I went. It was wonderful–we sat at tables for a dinner, had the chance to talk with the other Catholic laypeople sitting at the same table, who explained the topic for the evening and we shared stories. We saw a video about the topic. For the first time I heard regular people actually talking about Catholicism, Christ, the Bible. I shall continue going. It all began with a TV ad. Why not advertise Catholicism?

  • Loretta

    Time was the Knights of Columbus took out small advertisements in newspapers (it was one of the first ways I got reliable information, rather than prejudiced condemnation, about the Church). Where, oh where, are the Knights of Columbus in buying banner ads through Google Analytics to reach the modern generation in a similar way? Where are our parish deanery committees in making door to door visitations of our neighbors? For that matter, when was the last time you saw a friend at work with the courage to wear a crucifix (not a “nice” empty cross)? We can’t leave it all to Catholics Come Home.

    • Theodore Seeber

      I like that idea. I think I’m going to bring it up to my council.

  • Tom R

    > “St Francis de Sales evangelized the Calvinists (who hated him so much they set their dogs on him)”

    That’s harsh. It sounds like Calvinist Switzerland five hundred years ago was nearly as intolerant of what the majority considered false religion as, say, Quebec fifty years ago.

  • Alisha Ruiss

    I disagree with this strategy, for the most part. Yes, we do need to evangelize. But tracts and materials alone are not the answer; personal involvement, holiness and genuine friendship is. Unless the person has a relationship with us, there is no trust, no reason to investigate what we claim to be true. We need look no further than ourselves and Christ for evidence of this. I read books and watch movies recommended by people who have gained my trust in some way. If I see a JW tract or any other materials that do not reflect my Catholic beliefs, I ignore them because they are of no interest to me, unless I am seeking to study what we have in common or what are the main differences. If, however, I am engaged in a conversation with someone about beliefs, that is a completely different story. I am interested in the person, in their destiny, in their understanding of my beliefs etc.
    If Jesus is our example, this should be obvious. God did not *have* to become man. Presumably, He could have just zapped some tracts into Jerusalem from heaven, or dropped the Bible onto the planet. But He didn’t. He took on flesh, became intimately involved in a relatively small group of people’s lives, who then did the same. Love up close is what is effective. That is precisely why Jesus said we should take up our Cross and follow Him and love one another as He loved us, as opposed to “Read my Bible and make sure you leave it lying around.” It is a mistake to prefer words to action or action to words: it’s both, but it is the way that it is pursued that is key.
    It is also a mistake to think of evangelization as a war. This is especially a huge problem in America – they think of everything in terms of war and get terribly surprised when people don’t take their “efforts for peace” well. Yes, a spiritual battle is being waged, but how we “fight” is by choosing love in the every day challenges we face with faces we know, not sending avalanches of paper to people who don’t know us or care.


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